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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Ultimate Thank You!

         Thank You, Thank You!  How many times have we heard or uttered those words?  The tone of the spoken words varies according to the attitude of the heart.  I remember the Mom-motivated thank you note to my Great-Grandmother for a gift she sent me.  It was the most painful hour I ever endured.  If only there was a Google to help guide me in the 1930’s.  I would have learned from the Hallmark Card King, the steps that make up the acceptable ‘thank you’ note.  1. Greeting, 2. Express thanks, 3. Specific details. 4. Look ahead for next meeting. 5. Restate thanks and last, 6. End with regards.
         A genuine ‘Thank You’ comes from the heart.  It is a mutual investment – like a hug.  Whether the gift was purchased or made or simply your presence or time – it is a gift.
         Now that the annual gift-giving season is over, it is time to give thanks to someone now.  One thing I have noted as my husband drops ever more deep into dementia is his Thank You’s.  This is his gently spoken, “Thank You.” A glass of water elicits a thank you from him.  He has forgotten many things, but “Thank You” is not one of them.
         No matter how small or large the gift is, a ‘thank you’ is always appreciated.  It can come through an email, a written note, a spoken word, or a facebook post.  Just today I received a ‘thank you’ from a student 30 years ago.  Sharing a part of our hearts with others is a blessing…a thank you…with love.  Last night Facetime was the mode of delivery with a sweet ‘thank you’ from a beloved family.
         There is an Ultimate Gift Giver!  One who gives gifts to us each day, often without recognition or a token ‘thank you’ from us.  Instead, this Gift Giver often is pushed away.
         Have we ever counted the gifts God has given us through Jesus Christ? In uncountable ways, God gives and continues to give with patience. Each gift shows us His deep Love. 
         The first gift  - we were chosen before the creation to love God. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 4:1
         God created the earth and heavens. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
         He gave us our first breath of life with eternity planted in our hearts. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

         God provides the rain and the sunshine with harvests plentiful.  When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. Hebrews 6:7
         God gives us our daily and spiritual bread.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh. John 6:51
         Our cup runs over with the blessings from God. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Psalm 23:5
         He sent His Son Jesus to give us eternal life. For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
         He has a purpose for our lives. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8: 28-29
         Through Jesus Christ, He gives us the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us. Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
         Jesus promises to come again and take us home.  Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.  I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. Revelation 3:10-11
         The Gifts of the Holy Spirit leads to maturity in faithful love.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Galatians 5:22-23. 
         With joy, you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!  In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is! Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world.  Isaiah 12:3-5
         How can we but thank our Lord for giving us so much?
     We can thank Jesus by living for and with Him.
     We can thank Him by having his same attitude of love,
     We can thank the One who died to give us life evermore.
     Some days, all I have to say is, Thank You, Thank You, Lord.
     You give me hope, joy, and peace with your faithfulness and care.
     My heart is filled and running over with the blessings You give.
     You clothe me with joy and thankfulness without end.

            Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”  Philippians 2:4-5
         We give our Ultimate Thank You, to our Savior Jesus Christ, Who is coming again!



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Impossible Love Story

This was the title of a movie, but the most impossible love story began much longer ago.  When I heard these lyrics, the words crept into my heart.
         Heaven thundered, and the world was born. Life begins and ends, In the dust You formed.  Faith commanded and the mountains moved, Fear is losing ground, To our hope in you.  Unstoppable God Let Your glory go on and on. Impossible things In Your name they shall be done. Freedom conquered All our chains undone, Sin defeated Jesus has overcome. Mercy triumphed! When the third day dawned. Darkness was denied when the stone was gone.
         When I was a little girl, we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with the reading of Luke 2, in the light of the twinkling lights of a Christmas Tree.  The gallon jar of peppernuts brought a taste of home from Grandpa and Grandma Suderman.  Prayer on bended knee to our Saviour God followed the hushed voices singing Silent Night.  This spelled Christmas to me.  As the years pass by, I realize that earthly gifts become secondary.  
         The Impossible Gift, God gave long ago is more than we could have ever contemplated.  Countless words and songs of worship have been written about His Amazing Grace.
         Our Omniscient and Omnipresent Jehovah God created the gift of earth and heavens, breath of our being, animals, the mighty oceans teaming with life and gives us the greatest gift of all.  Love.  Little did I know when I was a child how wide, how deep and how high this tiny sentence reaches – God is Love.  It creates peace and joy – and reaches around the world when we believe! 
         God sent His Love, His Only Son, to earth to live among us to teach us who God is and how He loves. Love cannot be made a law, it for each individual and comes from the heart of each person. Without God, there is no love.
         When did the curtain rise on the coming of Jesus Christ?  There were 44 prophecies of Jesus Christ coming that have been fulfilled, back as far as Genesis 3:15, soon after the sin of Adam and Eve, God promised that right would be restored in His time. Satan struck the heel of Jesus when he died on the cross, but when Jesus rose from the dead, it was, is, and always will be a gift of Love to all of us. 
         Where did Christmas begin? It began when the earth was empty and void. The Holy Spirit of God hovered over the deep waters. Then God said, let there be Light.  Life, as we know it, had not begun and yet, each of us are chosen even before the world was created. God’s heart, bigger than the universe, loves us, and all who live on earth. God has plans for each of us.  He loves us so, He gives us the freedom of choice, generation after generation.
         Someone said nothing is a coincidence. The first time I heard the words from a minister, It is not a coincidence that you are here today. I learned that God’s purpose places us where He wants us to be, planned from the beginning.  God is unstoppable, He goes ‘on and on’ bringing about the birth of Jesus for our eternal salvation.  Seven hundred years before Christ, Isaiah prophesied his birth in the 7th chapter, Verse 14 - All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
         On the night of Jesus’ birth – God placed many things in place to announce his Son’s Birth.  He did the impossible for us. – He gave the star its trajectory to lead the wise men to King Jesus. Shepherds heard the angels proclaim Christ’s birth in the heavens and raced to the manger. Mary learned from an angel that she, as a virgin would bear Jesus. Even before the birth, when Mary visited Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb, recognizing the Lord and Savior.  Do we recognize Him as our Gift of Love from God? 
            Joseph married Mary, despite custom after a vision. A trip to pay taxes brought them to Bethlehem There was no room in the inn.
         “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” Micah 5:2   
         And so it came to pass, Jesus, the Son of God was born in a humble stable. His Love is everlasting!  It is ours for the choosing – and loving and trusting. 
         John wrote a beautiful summary of the coming of Jesus, and He will come again!  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Revelation 12:10-11
         This Christmas, ponder all that God gives you daily, even as Mary, Luke 2:18, But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
            And praise God, even as King David did so long ago!  Praise the Lord! I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them.  Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.  Psalm 111:1-3
            When we say, “Merry Christmas!”, what is really in our hearts? How do we celebrate?  What can we give the One and Only Son?  All He desires is our love and hearts.
            Merry Christmas!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I'll See You Later!

The night before Mom took my Dad to the hospital for the last time in June 1979, they talked and prayed all night.  They prayed and praised God for His Blessings throughout their lives together – 51 years.
         Dad told Mom, “When Jesus comes, look to the East, and you will see me flying up from the grave to meet Jesus in the air when He comes!”   Then, we who are living and still around will be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. That way we will always be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)
         As I get ready to leave after visiting with Ed, I find myself saying, “I’ll See You Later,” as I leave him.  I wonder if it is a declaration of Hope.  Is it a way of enduring what is? Time, now, has no meaning for Ed. This is comforting for me. Yet, I feel every second we are apart here on the earth.  I know, through the pain of parting, there will come a time when there will be no parting.
         In a little while longer, the One who is coming will come and won’t delay; but my righteous one will live by faith, and my whole being won’t be pleased with anyone who shrinks back. Hebrews 10:37-38
         It is one thing to say, I’ll see you later when you know for a certainty there is a next time.  The song we often sang during WWII contained these lyrics, “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places...I’ll be looking at the moon, and I’ll be seeing you!” 
         In a recent devotion penned by Anne Graham Lotz, I read a reminder of the words of Jesus in John 14:3.  I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  What a difference God made when He sent his Son to earth to give us this promise before Jesus left for His Home in Heaven.
         Did God say, “I’ll see you, later…” to his Son as he came to earth to sacrifice his life on the cross for us?  Often people want God, but not Jesus.  There is no separating the two. They are as One.
            “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”  John 8:19
         When a toddler learns to walk, no matter how often he falls, he loves the motivating call, Come!  Later when his parents leave, He wants to go with his parents.  When Jesus says Come – He wants to come and stay with us in our hearts.  When we come to him, and follow him, he gives us peace.  “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27.
         Why does Jesus promise us peace?  Because He loves us into a new life.  We become a new creature in His Love.  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  2 Corinthians 5:17.

The brief separations on this earth caused through travel or sickness are short.
         Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28
         When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. Mark 10:14
         Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever cometo me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  John 6:35
         Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6
         When I say, “I will see you later”, after a short visit with my husband, in my heart I realize later can mean a host of things.  It can be literal, or it can be a heaven-filled literal message. There is a strong cord of love, a companionship, a feeling of home with my husband of almost 65 years.
         With delight, I am discovering the same cord of love as Jesus walks beside me in this journey.  A companionship and a feeling of Going Home with Jesus brings peace.  I dreamed once of Jesus’ second coming and felt the Joy of His Presence.
         In this Advent season, we celebrate the coming of Jesus.  That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  Luke 2:9-11
         May the hope of peace and joy be with you, as we come to the true light to follow Him.  Then the parting words have a joy and life of their own…I’ll See You Later!
         The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. John 1:9-10
         He gives the Son authority to judge, because he is the Human One. Don’t be surprised by this, because the time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice.  John 5:27-28
         Therefore, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found by him in peace—pure and faultless. 2 Peter 3:14